Small worlds are a fun way to inspire imaginary play in kids. This mermaid small world is something we put together quickly and easily based on the interests of my preschoolers and an assortment of items we had around the house (namely a mermaid toy given to them by their gran!).
This creative play idea was first published in 2013 and has been updated and reshared for today’s audience.
You might also like this sand box small world
Seriously, who wouldn’t want to be a mermaid? They live in the ocean, have sparkly fish tails and get to swim and lay about on the beach all day.
They’re also great fuel for kids’ imaginations.
As preschoolers, my daughters spent tons of time in imaginary play, so this mermaid small world was a massive hit. It’s not fancy at all. We used a large, clear salad bowl, some out-of-date dry chickpeas and some sparkly sequins for the ‘ocean’, then added a recycled plastic milk jug house and beaded skewer ‘seaweed’.
If you don’t have these exact items, change them up to whatever you have at home. You can use any mermaid doll, or buy some cheaply online (these ones look cute).
My kids had a big part in making this small world—and they liked that part most of all!
How to make a mermaid small world
You will need
- A clear large plastic bowl, tub or bin
- Coloured pebbles would be ideal, but we used out-of-date dried chick peas because we had no pebbles on hand
- Sequins or other sparkles (optional—leave them out for a more enviro-friendly small world)
- 1 kitchen sponge with starfish shapes cut out of it. Reserve the leftover sponge to make the “plants”
- 1 Plastic milk jug cut in half horizontally
- Bamboo skewers and plastic beads for plants
- Toy mermaid or other small plastic toys to live in the world
Cut doors and windows in to the plastic milk jug to make a house for the mermaid. Thread torn pieces of the kitchen sponge onto the bamboo skewers interspersed with rows of plastic beads. These are to be the sea plants.
Be sure to snip the sharp end of the bamboo skewer off, a pair of secateurs does a good job of this.
Tip the pebbles (or chick peas in our case) into the bottom of the bowl and mix in the sparkles.
The girls loved running their hands through the dry chick peas and grabbing big hand fulls of it to sprinkle back in like rain.
Next put in the mermaid house.
Let the kids tip in the water, mine took turns pouring the jug.
It’s looking almost ready for the mermaid to move in.
Just needs a kitchen sponge starfish.
We also made a milk bottle lid rocky beach and a milk bottle rock pool for the starfish to live in.
Three year old Miss K in particular loved playing with this set up. Five year old Miss R loved helping to make it but soon tired of the game and left in search of other things to play with. Miss K happily played mermaids for close to an hour.
What other small worlds could you make?
More ideas to inspire imaginary play
- Make a sandbox small world
- Build a cardboard box Noah’s Ark
- These dinosaurs in sticky mud provided hours of fun
- These washi tape magic wands are so quick and easy to make
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